Gift Of Grace
... the McBades serving Jesus in Japan
December 24, 2007
Merry Christmas or as we say in Japan: “may-lee-cree-ma-sue”

I find my self, sitting at the computer this early Christmas morning.  I look out my window through the crispy winter air looking for a sign, something that says “Merry Christmas” to me.

Before you decide that I’m being “Ho-hum” about the birth of our Lord and possibly even deafening the sacred day, please hear me out.

In Japan, there is little to see that would tell you it’s Christmas, other than the displays in stores of Santas, reindeer and ornaments.  It’s always been difficult for me, the Christmas Season, knowing that it’s not about trees, glitter and toys.  Knowing that our Lord wasn’t really born this day, but that this day was the combination of pagan festivals and Winter Solstice.

Add to that, Christmas Day is my birthday.  Every year, I will hear someone inevitably say, “Oh, you were born on Christmas, wow, how special!  What are the odds of that?”  And I tell them, in reality, 1 in 365.25 days out of the year.  This day, as days of the year go, is really not all that different than any other – especially when you live in a country where 98% of the people here have no idea what the celebration of the birth of Jesus is really about.

Yesterday was Christmas Eve for us in Japan.  I spent most of the day searching…  Searching my heart and my mind for the real meaning of Christmas.  I wasn’t searching for the definition, I know what that is. What I was searching for, was that connection, that touch from God Himself that would once again reach into my life and fill me with His presence.

Last night we had our Christmas Eve service.  It’s a simple candlelight service where we sing carols, light Advent candles and reflect on what a precious gift the Lord coming to Earth really means.  We “unwrap” the greatest gift mankind has ever known and ponder what that really means.

king_herod.gifAnd then it really hit me.  Here I was, in Japan, doing what the Lord had asked me to do.  I was using the very gifts He gave me to serve Him with.  And I felt it!  There it was!  He touched me again.  I have no way to describe that feeling.  I can only tell you it makes all the difference in my world.  I no longer feel isolated and alone.  I feel “the connection” that my heart longs for.

Wherever you are, whatever day it may be, each day, even today, open the gift a little more.  Unwrap it and behold, the Son of God has come.  He calls you by name.  No gift we can give Him can ever repay the sacrifice He has made for us.  And even more, nothing can compare with the joy, the blessing or the connection we have to the creator of our whole universe, then to lay our gifts at His feet and worship Him.  And that, my dear brothers and sisters, is the true meaning of Christmas for me.

I pray that you too will find that connection as you give your gifts to Him, knowing that as you do, you will know the real joy and meaning of what this relationship with our Lord is all about.

From the center of where Christ lives in me, I wish you with all my heart, a very Merry Christmas, now and throughout the whole year.

Merry Christmas!

John McBade

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